Does everything happen for a reason? Does there have to be a reason? We go looking for one like we’re treasure hunters with noble intentions. Looking for lost artifacts and glittering coins in a far off jungle. Hacking through the overgrowth, undergrowth, ingrown toenails with machetes. Toss snakes off of our shoulders and kick tarantulas out of our path. Take off the fedora, wipe sweat from the brow, then look up at the blue sky, peeking through jungle canopy, with steely determination. It’s out there somewhere. It’s calling to me. I can feel it.
Cue the dramatic theme music and roll the opening credits. Ba da ba ba. Hm da hm….So, I was watching Indian Jones on Netflix a couple of weeks ago. Just before I got to the good one, hello Mr. Connery, they took it away. Arg, I feel robbed. Cheated. Damn you Netflix! Why? Why!
Did it happen for a reason? Was it a sign from above? What could the reason for this madness be? Other than the obvious expiration of licensing agreements. Then again, maybe the universe is trying to tell me something. The stars are aligning. It’s shoving me towards…What?
Where’s my fedora? I’m going on an adventure.
I’m not doing it for selfish reasons. No! Of course not. Perish the thought. My intentions are pure. I’m all about preserving history and keeping shiny objects out of dastardly hands. I’m trying to find the truth at minimal personal cost. Sure, a little gold would be an added bonus. I’d share it with my nearest and dearest or donate it to a museum. Help people in need because that’s what hero’s do!
Am I getting carried away? Well, of course, I am. I think it’s time for this pandemic to end so I can leave my home. Look at people’s whole faces instead of just their eyes and foreheads. You have very lovely eyes and an excellent forehead, by the way. I want to walk through the real world instead of fantasy worlds because they are just plain goofy. Fun! But riddled with goof-ish-ness.
Yep, I think I might be losing touch with reality. Not completely. I haven’t totally lost it just yet. Then again, I was only touching reality with my fingertips before the goof invaded, but it still counts. Go on, argue with me. You won’t convince me otherwise. An inch of sanity is as good as a mile.
If I keep saying it, then it will come true. One day, I will be a real girl Toto. Wait, those are different movies. Whatever, the point has been made and on we shall move.
You’ve heard the saying. It’s hard to miss, though I would hardly miss it. It’s the go-to mantra for exceptionally horrible situations. Take heart, my young hero, everything happens for a reason. That includes a global pandemic, racial inequality, and the murder of innocent people. Apparently?
I like it! The saying. Not the global pandemic, racial inequality, or the murder of innocent people. Those things are horrible. Vomitus. There’s nothing to like about any of those things. Obviously! But for the record, I morally, ethically, and as a basically decent human being, oppose the aforementioned, but not limited too, list of despicable things.
The saying, however, is kind of nice. It sounds pretty and pithy. It rolls off the tongue like spit in the desert. One problem, though, and it’s a minor thing. It’s probably nothing. I could be making a mountain out of a turnip seed. It’s just that, well, no one ever tells you what that reason is, and heaven forbid you ask.
Have tried asking? Go on, just ask, “Like what, pray tell? What is this reason you speak of? Can you give me an example?” What reason could justify a massive explosion in the middle of a crowded city? Thousands wounded. Hundreds dead? I haven’t seen the latest numbers but, still, there’s a reason for that?
Did you see that explosion in Beirut this week? I still can’t believe the devastation. Those people! God help them, please.
No, sorry, I don’t see it. It’s hard to imagine there’s a reason for that kind of suffering. What possible reason could there be for that level of pain? It’s a rotten cherry on top of a curdled sundae. I don’t have to recap the last six months again, do I?
Someone’s screaming, “Good God, no please don’t say it out loud!” Okay, deep breath my friend. I won’t say it. Let’s just go with something like, I don’t know, this year has been a whole lot of WTF and it keeps ongoing. It’s too much. My brain can’t process it all.
I just keep muttering, “What the actual f***?” Only, I say the word without the asterisk. I’m trying to swear less, but this year was the wrong year to break that habit.
Just when I think something worse can’t possibly happen, I’m proven wrong. Killer bees. Alcohol addled alligators. (Purely for the alliteration). Normal life stressors on top of what has to be the worst apocalyptic movie of all time. Whoever’s writing this year must’ve must be related to someone pretty powerful. It’s the only explanation! Damn you, nepotism.
We’re facing a lot of the conflicts on multiple fronts and most of them are built on a strong foundation of suppression, bigotry, denialism, and blind faith in corrupt systems. But everything happens for a reason so we’re going to be okay. Right?
Right. Sure. Okay, but did anyone say those reasons are good reasons? Way to deflate that balloon. Geez, we were building up to a nice and pretty wrap up and then: pop! You couldn’t just let it ride, could you?
But it’s a valid question.
I automatically think that it’s referring to something good. It’s the teaspoon of sugar that helps a bitter pill slide down a little bit easier. It’s a meaningful spin on a bad situation. A light at the end of a very long, dark, tunnel? Then again, I could be making an ass out of you and me.
I assume, please correct me if I’m wrong, when we say that there’s a reason behind something, we’re not just looking for an explanation. It’s deeper than that. Contextually, whenever I hear this particular cliché, it sounds like we’re looking for a purpose or meaning. More than that! We’re looking for hope in a situation that seems devoid of anything positive or advantageous.
And there’s nothing wrong with that! I do it all the time because, without hope or the possibility of hope, carrying on would be, for me, virtually improbable. Not impossible. I’ve carried on with little more than a wish on a star that might’ve been a satellite. The chance that, if I hold on a little longer, something good will come out of all of this? Yeah, when it’s all I’ve had, it was better than nothing.
After multiple decades of living with a chronic illness, countless surgeries, near-death, and actual death experiences, I have yet to find a reason for any of it. At least, nothing substantial enough to create a sense of purpose or meaning. There have been times when I’ve found, let’s call them, micro reasons. Small moments that created a positive context to otherwise horrible situations. Those small moments, though, are fleeting and they haven’t added up to anything emotionally sustainable.
A doctor destroyed my kidneys and left me with an illness that’s ravished my body. I’ve spent years being cut open, sewn back up, and jumped started. My body hurts. My mind is fractured. Purpose? Meaning? I don’t think I see it but does there have to be meaning or purpose to make peace with what happened? Will that give me a sustainable hope?
I like the idea, I understand why we do it, but I’m questioning the pragmatism. What if things just happen? There’s no reason or purpose. No grand plan or divine design. Bad things just happen. Horrific things just happen. Good things just happen. That’s it. It just happened. What then?
How do I go on living in a world were things just happen for no reason? If I can’t find the meaning behind everything I’ve gone through? It feels hollow and vapid. Abandoned. Betrayed. Has my faith, hope, been wasted? If, despite all my best efforts, my quest ends in an empty tomb in the middle of a jungle then, what?
There’s always a chance that I’m going about it all wrong. I’ve misinterpreted the text. Classic treasure hunter mistake! It happens to the best of us. Won’t beat myself up too hard, but I will reevaluate.
Look at the text without my previous assumptions. Fresh eyes. A new perspective. It says that everything happens for a reason, but it doesn’t say how that reason will manifest itself. I’ve been looking for it, hacking through the overgrowth, but what if it isn’t something I can find? It isn’t out there. It isn’t hidden. It isn’t waiting for discovery.
It’s waiting to be made. Reasons, purpose, meaning. They aren’t lost treasure. They’re art and I’m the artist. I might also be the canvas or the clay. How do I create art out of a broken body? How do I reshape my pain, my scars, into something meaningful?
Uh…Huh…Well, if I knew the answers to those questions I wouldn’t have bought a fedora.
If reasons are something we make, instead of find, then the power is firmly in my hands. I’m not at the mercy of some unknowable force. I can’t blame the obstacles in my path. I am my biggest obstacle! My strengths and my weaknesses. My desire for more and my fear of the unknown. It comes down to what I want and need my life, my past, my future to mean.
I suppose, when they say that everything happens for a reason, that means that I am the reason. The meaning. The purpose. Oh, I don’t know how that makes me feel.
I’m not sure if it’s comforting or disturbing. It’s easier to go looking for something than spend hours, maybe even years, crafting it from salvaged scraps. It certainly takes a lot more energy and the accountability stops with me. I get out of it what I put into it. More. Less. I can create a masterpiece or I can leave the canvas blank.
Maybe, to a certain degree, that’s life in a nutshell that’s been cracked open by a bullwhip. We get what we put in with the add bonus of broken shells. You know what? I liked it better when I got to wear a cool hat, have my own theme music, and look up at the sky with steely determination.
Ba da ba ba…Hm da hm…